IPSWICH — Residents of this picturesque seaside town spent Sunday clearing debris from branch-strewn lawns after a “mammoth storm” passed through northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire on Saturday, leaving three people struck by lightning.
Two women hit by lightning on Crane Beach remained in critical condition Sunday, said Lieutenant Jonathan Hubbard, acting chief of Ipswich police, in a statement.
The women’s names have not been released, but Hubbard identified them as a 69-year-old Concord resident and a 61-year-old from North Grosvenor Dale, Conn. Both women were without a pulse when emergency crews reached them, authorities said.
The women were resuscitated before their arrival at Beverly Hospital and later taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, police said.
An unidentified North Andover man was also struck, according Jim Chiavelli, a spokesman for Merrimack College, where the victim worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts on campus. The worker was moving trash behind the store when lightning struck him at about 5:20 p.m., Chiavelli said.
The man was conscious and alert, and was taken to an area hospital where he was not admitted, said Chiavelli. On Sunday he was resting at home, having experienced some arm pain.
The Crane Beach lightning strike rattled many Ipswich residents, according to Linda Grimes, 57, who has lived in the town most of her life and was at the beach before Saturday’s storm rolled in.
“Everyone in town is really concerned about those people,” she said. “In a way, it could have any of us.”
Anne Butterworth, also 57, was at the beach from morning until 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“All afternoon, if you looked over toward Plum Island, you could hear the thunder and you could see [lightning] come down,” Butterworth said.
She left after seeing dark clouds looming above nearby Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, she said.
“I said, ‘I don’t like the look of that,’ ” she said. “There were still tons of people coming down the boardwalk. . . . I said, ‘Oh my gosh, don’t they understand?’ ”
The storm knocked out electricity for thousands across the region, but service was mostly restored by Sunday afternoon, officials said.
At its peak, NStar reported about 5,000 customers without power in Massachusetts, 11 of whom were still without power at 9 p.m. Sunday. National Grid had close to 16,000 outages at peak hours, with 20 remaining at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Microbursts struck Ipswich, Bernardston, and Hollis, N.H., on Saturday, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Taunton. The service issued tornado warnings for Franklin County and New Hampshire’s Hillsborough County, but no tornadoes were reported.
Reports of downed trees and power lines, along with debris in roadways, were common throughout the region, but most of the damage was minor.
“We are not aware of any deaths involved or major damage at this time,” said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The wind toppled a huge linden tree that fell atop Eleanor Todd’s house on Washington Street in Ipswich, taking down utility lines with it.
Todd, 57, said the front sidewalk had been built around the tree, which had become unhealthy and which town officials had considered taking down during roadwork about two years ago. Its fall came as no surprise.
“I knew that it was a matter of time,” she said.
A building inspector declared the house’s family room uninhabitable after the tree damaged its roof, Todd said, and a branch broke through the wall into her daughter’s bedroom closet. She was just glad that no one was home when it fell.
“I think I would have died of fright if I was home,” she said.
Outside Ipswich’s John Whipple House, a Colonial structure dating back to 1677 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a mighty oak fell across adjacent Route 1A.
The Whipple House is part the Ipswich Museum, where weekend manager Bob Purzycki said it was fortunate that the tree fell toward the road.
“We were lucky it went this direction, because we would have lost one of the most important houses in Massachusetts,” he said. “That would have been awful if it hit the house.”
Purzycki estimated that the tree fell about 7 p.m., after the museum closed for the day, but earlier there had been demonstrations of Colonial-period spinning and weaving taking place under it.
If it had fallen then, he said, “it would have [hit] those two people working, plus observers.”
Sunday’s weather was dry and cooler than Saturday, and this week should be mostly sunny with highs of about 70, getting warmer and more humid on Thursday with a high temperature of 75, according to the weather service.